Health and Safety

All Articles in the Category ‘Health and Safety’

Vaccines Save Lives

Mother and Her Daughter

Mother and Her Daughter

Vaccines save lives. According to the World Health Organization, aside from clean water, the development of vaccines is the most influential public health intervention for improving the world’s health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes immunizations among the Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century. It’s clear that diseases that once made children ill, and all-too-often took their lives, have been eliminated or greatly reduced thanks to the emergence of safe and effective vaccines.

“Vaccines are one of the most impactful public health successes of our time,” said Dr. Danielle Zerr, head of Infectious Disease at Seattle Children’s. “In the beginning of the 20th century, infectious diseases took an enormous toll on the population. Now, we can protect our children and the community with safe vaccines, and we’ve seen incredible benefits like the eradication of smallpox, the near elimination of polio and a substantial reduction in the rates of bacterial meningitis.” Read full post »

5 Ways to Practice Positive Parenting in April

Parenting is often described as the most challenging and rewarding experiences of a person’s life. Parents and non-parents are bombarded with opinions on how to raise children, yet so many parents end up feeling alone and isolated, striving for perfection.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and sadly we could pack 10 football stadiums each year with the number of children that are victims of maltreatment. We know that a family history of abuse, mental illness and substance abuse play a significant role in these cases. There are also some simple, straightforward things we can do to navigate the bumpy road of parenting and promote positive parenting. Check out our April calendar for daily suggestions for incorporating positive parenting into your own life. Read full post »

Sleepy Time: Researcher and New Mom Explains Why Good Sleep Habits Are Important for Child Development

Dr. Michelle Garrison is a new mom and public health researcher the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute where she studies sleep.

I’m a new mom of a 4-month-old boy, and it’s giving me a new perspective on my work. Some new parents might be surprised to know that we are both getting pretty good sleep these days. I have researched child sleep, health and development for years, and now with my baby I am putting what I’ve learned into practice, especially when it comes to helping my son develop healthy sleep skills.

I study sleep issues in infants all the way to adolescents. As my son grows, I will help him as a preschooler through night terrors, change bedtime routines to meet the needs of an elementary school boy, and deal with the growing independence of the teenage years and the bedtime struggles that smartphones and tablets can bring. Read full post »

Up and Away: Storing Medicines Safely

In honor of National Poison Prevention Week, Dr. Suzan Mazor shares advice for parents about how to give and store medicines safely.

A well-known substance often found in plain sight, on nightstands, bathroom counters, and in women’s purses, is causing parents to place frantic phone calls to poison centers around the country. The culprit: acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter pain reliever and fever reducer used to treat many conditions. The most recognized brand name is Tylenol, but there are more than 600 different prescription and over-the-counter medicines that contain acetaminophen.

With 50 million Americans using medicines that contain this ingredient each week, poison centers and emergency rooms are regularly called upon to address preventable poisonings.

“Most people think poison centers only answer calls about children who accidentally drink bleach, but really, over 50% of our calls are related to medicines,” said Whitney Pennington, education and communications specialist with the Washington Poison Center. Read full post »

Heart-Healthy Habits for Families

In honor of American Heart Month, On The Pulse asked Dr. Jason Deen, a cardiologist at Seattle Children’s, to provide tips for families who want to make heart-healthy choices.

Deen works with families who have children who were born with heart problems, and also cares for families who have children who are obese, most of whom have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He conducts research to learn about differences in the heart health of minority populations.

“While the rates of heart disease are leveling off for the population as a whole, certain ethnic and racial minorities are seeing continued increases in the rates of heart disease,” said Deen.

His various experiences have resulted in a special interest in preventing heart disease by encouraging patients and families to lead healthy lifestyles.

“The process of developing adult-onset heart disease begins early in life, before symptoms are present and before it can be diagnosed,” said Deen. “Consequently, educating parents and caregivers in helping children learn heart-healthy habits is key in prevention.” Read full post »

Let’s Talk About What Most People Avoid: Poop

Poop Emoji Pose

Dr. Ambartsumyan poses with items from her wall of memorabilia.

Everyone poops. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about it.

Dr. Lusine Ambartsumyan, director of Seattle Children’s Gastrointestinal Motility program, is on a mission to open up a dialogue about poop.

According to Ambartsumyan, people tend to shy away from conversations related to bowel movements. She says many people feel uncomfortable or shameful talking about it, but these are vital conversations for parents and children to have together.

Millions of children around the world have problems with constipation and fecal incontinence, or the ability to control bowel movements. However, these issues can be difficult to diagnose if children and parents aren’t willing to speak up.

“There’s a stigma, and sometimes parents don’t know their child is suffering from constipation or incontinence because they feel ashamed to talk about it,” said Ambartsumyan. “We have to desensitize and demystify shame around poop. I talk about poop all day long, every single day, and I love talking about it. I want people to feel comfortable talking about it too because it’s critical for their health.” Read full post »

Blood Donation: Eight Things to Know

January marks National Blood Donor Month, a time to encourage people to become blood donors and celebrate those who already give the gift of life through blood donation.

In the U.S., someone needs donated blood about every two seconds. The need for new donations is constant as blood is only usable for a limited amount of time – donated red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection, platelets within 5 days, and plasma can be frozen for up to one year. Our nation’s blood supply is often dangerously low during the winter months due to donors’ busy holiday schedules, seasonal illnesses and bad weather. Children and adults being treated for cancer, surgery patients, victims of accidents and other ill people all rely on donated blood. In fact, blood transfusions are the most frequently performed medical procedure people have during hospital stays. Read full post »

Positive Changes for the New Year: Resolutions for Families

The New Year is a time when many people reflect on what’s been going well, and also think about small changes they might like to make to improve their health and wellness. You’ve likely got a thing or two in mind for your own self-care goals. Along with these, think about picking an item that your family can work on together as well. It’s more fun to work as a team, and you can encourage each other along the way to creating healthier habits.

Last year, Dr. Mollie Grow told us about making SMART resolutions (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely). This year, she’s offering more ideas for families to consider as they take steps for better health, safety and wellness in 2016.

“The New Year is a great time to reflect on our values and priorities as a family and look for ways to act these out in daily life,” Grow said. Read full post »

Helping Kids Cope With Holiday Blues

Holiday DangersThe holidays can be a particularly blue time of the year for people, including children and teenagers. The darker days of winter can bring about a gloomy mood and the hype of the holidays can set unrealistic expectations for children. There are many reasons children may feel sad or anxious around the holidays, including added stress around having to be with one or the other parent (not both), in cases of divorced families, or coping with the loss of a loved one who recently passed away.

To help kids cope with sadness around the holidays, Dr. Elizabeth McCauley, associate director of Seattle Children’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, offers some advice on how to keep those blues at bay. Read full post »

Study: Teens Use Covert Self-harm Hashtags on Instagram That Escape Content Advisory Filters

Dr. Megan Moreno found that teens posting about self-harm, which includes behavior such as intentional cuts or burns on the wrists, arms, legs or belly, were able to outmaneuver Instagram warning labels.

Teens on social media post about their comings and goings—pictures, videos, music and news. But according to a new study from Seattle Children’s Research Institute, some teens are using stealthy hashtags and secret languages on Instagram, a popular picture-sharing app, to create online self-harm communities and trends that encourage dangerous behavior. By doing so, they circumvent Instagram safeguards for self-harm and other dangerous material.

The new research illustrates what content is present on Instagram and details how parents or concerned adults can decipher the meaning of unclear terms they see on their teens’ profiles.

Dr. Megan Moreno, an adolescent medicine physician who studies social media and adolescent health at the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, found that teens posting about self-harm, which includes behavior such as intentional cuts or burns on the wrists, arms, legs or belly, were able to outmaneuver Instagram warning labels. Despite the social media app’s attempts to discourage the posts by providing warnings and blocking certain hashtags, adolescent users continued the conversations by developing new hashtags.

“We found that only one third of self-harm hashtags on Instagram generated warning labels,” Moreno said. “Adolescents’ use of unusual terms, such as ‘blithe’ and odd spellings such as ‘self-harmmm,’ allowed them to subvert detection and warning labels.” Read full post »